There was plenty of excitement at Sale last Thursday when the heavily supported Battles End ($19 to $12) stormed home late for apprentice Jack Martin and trainer Rob Gillahan to take out the benchmark 64 over 1717 metres.
Rob Gillahan and wife Karen generally have four or five horses in work as a hobby on a sheep property they manage at Ensay (80 kilometres from Bairnsdale).
The Gillahans have chipped away for the best part of two decades, winning races with tried horses they have purchased at the sales or been given. They’ve competed mainly on the picnic circuit, where for many years Karen rode the stable runners.
In April 2015 the Gillahans took their entire team (four) to their local picnic meeting at Swifts Creek for a day they’ll never forget, with Bibibang, Urban Gypsy, Waltz In and Chadra Boy all saluting the judge.
In recent times they’ve won professional races with Chadra Boy, Waltz In, Urban Gypsy and now Battles End.
Battles End was purchased by a local syndicate at auction for $800 in hope of one day winning the Tambo Valley Cup at Swifts Creek.
The formerly Jason Warren-trained mare has done a bit better than expected, however — she’s raced 14 times for her new connections for two wins, five placings and stakes of more than $35,000.
Battles End will be entered for a benchmark 64 over 1800 metres at Sandown Ladbrokes Park next Wednesday.
“Fingers crossed she can get a run — she’s pulled up super!” said Karen Gillahan.
Man earns break
Free-running Bairnsdale steeplechaser Marlo Man has headed to the paddock for a well earned spell.
Marlo Man took no harm when losing jockey Paul Hamblin at the last obstacle in the Crisp Steeplechase (Ladbrokes Park, August 7), and was set to contest last Sunday’s Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat.
However, trainer Jackson Pallot decided the paddock was a better option after a poor track gallop at Bairnsdale last Wednesday.
It was another successful campaign for Marlo Man, earning just under $30,000 from his eight starts. He also went down in the record books as the first horse to win a jumps race at Racing.Com Park, Pakenham.
All eyes on the Heath
There’ll be plenty of local interest in Saturday’s Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m) for mares at Caulfield, with three of the chances in a tough race having Gippsland connections.
Lang Lang-based Allison Sheehan has stable star Andrassy in the race, while Bairnsdale businesswoman Carlee Knight is a part-owner of Ocean Embers (trained by Shea Eden), and Traralgon estate agent Ben Wilson is in A Lotta Love (Sam Pritchard-Gordon).
Sheehan reports Andrassy continues to thrive, with the stable resisting the temptation to run last weekend at Moonee Valley in favour of running for black type at her favourite track.
Andrassy has won twice at Caulfield, more recently on July 30.
Ocean Embers has certainly had her share of dramas in her short career, enduring a wind operation and the removal of bone chips from both fetlocks, but Eden has been rewarded for his patience, with the mare winning impressively at Caulfield on August 13, her second win at the track this preparation.
A Lotta Love has been given a freshen since running fifth in the Winter Championship Final at Flemington (July 9), where she was backing up quickly from a win at Caulfield (July 2).
A Lotta Love has spent plenty of time at Balnarring beach, and although she missed a trial on Monday when the Cranbourne heats were abandoned, Pritchard-Gordon is confident his Group 3 placegetter has come up well.
He believes mares with residual winter fitness have an advantage in the early black-type races.